Turf Talk: National Hunt racing cranks up a gear during three-day event at Cheltenham
National Hunt racing really cranks up a gear this weekend with the staging of the three-day November meeting at Cheltenham.
The feature race on Friday is the Cross Country Chase, which could feature the first two home in the equivalent race at the Festival, Delta Work and Galvin.
These horses met at level weights in that race, but Friday’s showdown is a handicap, so I am taking a chance with the lightly-weighted Diesel D’Allier. He has run over these unique fences five times so hopefully can make good use of that experience and the favourable race conditions.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup takes place on Saturday. This race started out as the Mackeson Gold Cup in 1960 and has been won by some top chasers over the years.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has only won the race twice, but looks to have a strong hand this year. His Stage Star was impressive when winning the Turner’s Chase at the Festival but I fancy the second that day, Notlongtillmay.
He has a 3lb weight advantage from that race in March and enjoyed a nice ‘pipe-opener’ at the October meeting.
I like the look of Good Risk At All in the Novice Chase on Saturday. He ran well over hurdles in the Coral Cup and won on his chasing debut at Carlisle in impressive fashion.
The Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday gives Gin Coco a chance to go one better than his second place in this race last year. Shrewd trainer Harry Fry has given his charge a prep run this year to ensure his peak fitness.
There is also racing nearer to home on Saturday where it is ‘Peaked Cap and Pearls Day’ at Wetherby. Racegoers are encouraged to get dressed up in their best Peaky Blinder outfits, with 1920s-themed music provided in the Paddock by Blackmarcs. Gates open at 10am, with the first of seven races due off at 12.09pm.
Garlick's Goodies: Friday Cheltenham 2:55 – Diesel D’Allier; Saturday 1:45 – Good Risk At All; 2:20 – Notlongtillmay; 3:30 – Gin Coco.